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Glen Alpine to Lake Aloha

 <-Squaw Creek  Velma Lakes->

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  This is one of the best hikes near Lake Tahoe, which takes you past Modjeska Falls, Glen Alpine Springs, Grass Lake (side-trip), Susie Lake, and Heather Lake on the way to Lake Aloha.  The hike is a classic Desolation Wilderness experience and the area is predictably popular.  This is one of our favorite hikes to do near Lake Tahoe, especially to satisfy an alpine lake fix.  Make sure to check out the waterfall coming out of Susie Lake as there is also a great view of the valley below and Grass Lake.  Side-trips could include Gilmore Lake, Half Moon Lake, the summit of Mt Tallac, or continuing to the north or south.  John Muir described this area, "From no other valley, as far as I know, may excursions be made in a single day to so many peaks, wild gardens, glacier lakes, glacier meadows and alpine groves, cascades, etc."

Distance:  11.75 miles round-trip

Elevation Gain/Loss:  1,760' total

Season: July through October

Fees & Permits:  Wilderness Permits are required for dayhikers (can register at trailhead) and overnighters (can obtain at the Tahoe Visitor Center in South Lake Tahoe).

Finding the Trailhead: 38.8772 N, 120.0808 W (Glen Alpine Trailhead).  From the US-50/CA-89 in South Lake Tahoe follow CA-89 to the northwest for ~3.1 miles and turn left onto Fallen Leaf Lake Road.  Follow the road (very narrow) along the eastern shore of the lake for ~4.8 miles before turning left onto Glen Alpine Road.  Follow this road up to the trailhead after a further ~0.8 miles.  You may need to park a little ways back down the road from the trailhead if it is full (which it will be in the summer).

The Hike:
Follow the road away from the trailhead to the west and reach the bottom of Modjeska Falls in ~0.45 miles.  Climb up to the east of the waterfall and then to the north while surrounded by the buildings of Glen Alpine Springs.  A little ways later pass by the actual spring before climbing up to the Grass Lake junction (~1.5 miles from the trailhead).  Continue to the north past the junction to begin climbing some more.  During this section of trail, the views begin to open up the higher you get looking down into the Glen Alpine Valley with the surrounding peaks to the south. 
At ~2.5 miles from the trailhead, the trail crosses a spring and then crosses the outlet creek for Gilmore Lake at ~2.7 miles.  Near the creek crossing the trail begins to level out and it reaches a junction at ~2.8 miles.  Stay left here (the right trail leads towards Gilmore or Half Moon Lakes), and reach another trail junction at ~3.3 miles (the right trail again leads to another junction where you can choose to go towards Gilmore Lake or Half Moon Lake).  Stay left again, and make your way around a few ponds and some lush sections of trail. 
At ~3.65 miles the trail reaches the eastern shore of Susie Lake, a very pretty lake.  Head south along the eastern shore and cross the outlet creek at ~3.9 miles (here you can follow the creek downstream to get a view of the brink of Susie Lake Falls and the valley below).  Continuing along the southern shore of the lake (and enjoy the views of Jacks Peak & Dicks Peak) the trail then turns to the north to briefly follow the western shore before climbing away towards Heather Lake.  The trail then flattens for a brief period before arriving at Heather Lake's outlet creek just downstream of the lake.  The trail reaches the eastern end of Heather Lake at ~4.65 miles.  This also is a very pretty lake with great views of Pyramid Peak & Mt Price to the southwest. 
The trail follows the northern shore of the lake before climbing away from it to the west.  While climbing, there are more nice views looking down to the east.  At ~5.5 miles the trail reaches a junction just off the northeastern end of Lake Aloha.  The trail to the right (west) leads to Mosquito Pass.  Stay left here and head south to pick out a nice spot to catch some rays (be sure to bring plenty of suntan lotion since you are now above 8,000') along the shore of Lake Aloha.  We ended up stopping at ~5.9 miles from the trailhead and enjoyed the great views of Pyramid Peak & Mt Price over the lake.  Depending on when you visit the lake there may or may not be lots of islands in the lake.